Thursday, September 07, 2006



It's all about the money

Why has Parliament been so vicious this week? Writing in the Dominion-Post, Vernon Small gives the answer: it's all about the money:

It is, most crucially, about the spending rules that will apply at the next and subsequent elections and who might score a tactical victory if they are rewritten.

If solicitor-general Terence Arnold's view, in combination with Mr Brady's findings, holds sway, the field will tilt against parties that do not attract the votes of those with deep pockets, and against minor parties in particular.

[...]

On the other side of the debate, if Labour can pass a law to throw back the veil over anonymous donations – or mandate state funding – then the field will be tilted back to the Left.

National thinks it has the next election in the bag at the moment. People may hate their policies, but they have so much money - truckloads of it, according to Gerry Brownlee in Question Time today - that they are effectively able to run a permanant campaign and buy themselves victory. Campaign finance reform will nullify that advantage, and restore the last thing any right-winger wants: a level playing field. That is why they are being so vicious - because they see that advantage, and their hope of buying an absolute majority and restarting the Revolution, disappearing before their eyes.

15 comments:

I/S:

Yeah, and Mallard's extraordinary performance yesterday - and the rather disingenuous 'have you stopped beating your wife yet?' attack decided on by Labour this week - had nothing to do with it. Sorry, I/S, but whatever happened to "you give it out, you get it back" - or does that only flow one way?

It seems to me that Labour expected National to crumble like wet toilet paper, and they declined to play along. Chicken's not a very pretty game, but let's not pretend it's all National's fault.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 9/07/2006 11:40:00 PM

I/S - I thought that was one of Small's more crapulent comments. Along with 81% of New Zealanders dont you give National some credit for feeling cheated out of the last election by a corrupt government. Labour spent more than National did. Put all the bullshit aside, isn't National simply doing its job. Holding the government to account?

Anybody with any intelligence would realise that there is no way Labour will reform campaign laws to Nationals advantage at the next election. Far far too esoteric when the exposure of corruption resounds far more with the average voter than the theoretical ability to outspend ones opponents.

Posted by sagenz : 9/08/2006 02:07:00 AM

Craig: sure, you give it out, you get it back. National gave it out, they got it back, gave some more out in return, and got more back in return. Fortunately, some of the politicians seem to have realised where that cycle of political viciousness will take them, and that a bit of restraint could be useful. Today, Parliament was definitely quieter (though apparently because Labour had been tipped to the minor parties' walkout plans, and wanted the Nats to look responsible for it). Hopefully the weeknd will give everyone a bit of time to calm down.

Sage: Crapulent? I thought it was stating the bloody obvious, myself. But its probably not so obvious to people who don't watch Parliament very closely. As for National feeling cheated, they clearly had a hunger for power after two terms in opposition, and equally clearly felt victory was in their grasp. It must be very frustrating that the voters refused to play along, despite the buckets of money the Brethren threw around.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 9/08/2006 03:01:00 AM

From Hansard's account of QT yesterday:

"Hon Bill English: An allegation of corruption is a very serious one. You cannot expect a political party to sit here listening while that is made, with no response."

Er, yes, precisely, Bill. And equally, you can't try to invalidate the results of a General Election without expecting no response.

I wonder if English is telegraphing his displeasure with his own party's tactics?

Posted by noddy : 9/08/2006 09:46:00 AM

I/S:

Then could you please point me to where any National MP had done anything close to Mallard's threat made in the General Debate on Wednesday?

One of the few time I've actually felt proud of Parliament, is when Mark Peck thanked MPs of all parties for not trying to score political points off the car crash (and subsequent conviction for dangerous driving) that lead to him coming out as an alcoholic. Trevor Mallard might like to think about that the next time he responds to robust political debate with a frolic in that particular sewer.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 9/08/2006 10:49:00 AM

Vernon Small is an old-school leftie and it is hardly surprising that he has run Labour's line here. It is not about the money. The two main parties will never struggle to raise the funds required. It is about the law, and whether the ruling party should be able to get away with breaking it or not.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/08/2006 10:59:00 AM

If funding comes from the tax-payer for campaigns it will effective stop any new parties having a chance to run for government.

It will mean that those currently in office will decide how the funding in future will be split.

Labour only trying to make this an issue because it stole money to fund it's election campaign and breached the amount they were allowed to spend.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/08/2006 12:51:00 PM

I/S:

Care to answer the question I asked in my second comment - which National MP threatening to 'dish the dirt' on Labour MPs was Mallard 'giving it back to'? If you'd give the date, I'll check out the Hansard myself.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 9/09/2006 12:38:00 PM

The wierd thing, to me, is that the minor parties aren't seeing their popularity go up over this.

This whole nasty blow-up makes both major parties look bad (Labour worse than National, certainly - but National's spending on pledge cards from '02 is certainly not a winner).

It is the minor parties that get the most screwed when trying to raise campaign funds - not Labour and National. If Labour MPs gave as much of their personal income to Labour as the Green MPs do to the Green Party then Labour wouldn't need the pledge card money.

And are the non-corrupt Greens (or even Act or the Maori Party who also come out clean on this stuff) gaining in the polls for it? I've seen no evidence. Which is quite depressing.

Posted by Icehawk : 9/10/2006 01:38:00 PM

Icehawk:

Good question. I don't think the Greens and ACT exactly did themselves any favours coming out swinging against the Brady Report; and the Maori Party? Well, not a good look that the party had to go into damage control mode after Hone Harawira's extraordinary defence of Field on Agenda, then days of mixed messages over the party's own policy on MP's taking 'koha' from constituents. Whether you agree with him or not, Hone's got to learn to extend his vocabulary of dissent beyond 'brown-bashing'.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 9/10/2006 03:27:00 PM

Maybe UF can benefit if they play their cards right. Otherwise the other parties look a bit dirty too.

Posted by Genius : 9/10/2006 04:33:00 PM

Genius:

Same problem for United Future - 'Mister Commonsense' was first off the rack to attack Kevin Brady and defend the indefensible status quo when it looked like the Sensible Party might get slugged where it hurts.

I think all the minor parties can save a lot of face (whether they deserve to or not), by just taking a deep breath and and not trying to put a face-saving spin on the final report. It would also be nice - if not likely - if some minor party leaders took the opportunity to apologise.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 9/10/2006 05:29:00 PM

Indeed... and for ACT it is the only way to avoid oblivion.

Aside from that an inoffensive middle party like UF has the most to benefit because they can theoretically soak up angry labour voters.

Posted by Genius : 9/10/2006 08:41:00 PM

There is NO way that the this election spending question was corrupt. Anyone using that word in relation to this is a fool who has NO idea what the word really means. You are all being used as propaganda tools.

With the media now backing it there is now a good chance the right will swing a coup on this. Pull that and there will be consequences. Very bad ones.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/10/2006 10:53:00 PM

anonymous,
1) I wonder what your definition of corrupt is.
2) point 1 aside, do we then accept any behaviour from labour because we are too scared of national?
Isn't this one reason why we have 'third' parties?

Posted by Genius : 9/11/2006 07:30:00 AM